7 Winter Skincare Tips For Soft And Glowing Skin – Beautiful With Brains

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What are the best winter skincare tips? I’m asking because winter is coming. Faster than in most places here in London. And my skin is in panic mode. The endless cycle of sweeping harsh winds and indoor heating that suck all the moisture out of it. Freezing temperatures that make it flake. And don’t get me started on snow. It reflects UV rays like crazy and that means one thing: sun damage. What’s a girl to do?

Winter is hard on your skin, but that doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to experiencing all kinds of problems when the cold season rolls around. I believe that being prepared in advance is half the battle. Now we can get our skin defences up, so that when the attack comes, we’re prepared and can put our best face forward throughout the winter season. Who is with me?

Here are the best winter skincare tips, according to dermatologists (and everything I’ve learned from them over the past 2 decades):

Winter Skincare Tip #1: Use Gentle Cleansers

Cleansers are one of the harshest steps in your skincare routine. When they’re too harsh, they disrupt the skin’s protective barrier, which in winter, has already been compromised by the cold temperatures. Does that mean you shouldn’t cleanse? Of course not!

Just use the gentlest cleanser you can find. As long as it does the job, of course. You know you’ve found the right cleanser when it leaves your skin clean and soft without any tight or dry feeling. That tightness is a sign your skin’s barrier is compromise ands needs loving, gentle care.

Instead, avoid harsh cleansers like the plague. If your skin feels tight after washing, say bye-bye and look for something gentler. Your skin’s already being attacked by the elements. It doesn’t need to be attacked by your cleanser too.

Dr Hextall agrees: “Gentle cleansing is a must: you need your skin barrier to be as healthy as possible so that it can retain vital moisture. As a rule of thumb, if your skin feels tight after washing it is likely that the cleanser you are using has disrupted your skin barrier. Skin should feel calm and hydrated after washing, so if you are reaching immediately for your moisturiser you may want to consider a gentler cleanser.”

If you have oily skin, look for pH-balanced foaming cleansers. Dry skin? Opt for a cream or oil-based cleanser. Sensitive skin? A gentle creamy cleanser or a micellar water is the best option for you.

BEST PICKS

  • CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($14.99): A cream cleanser loaded with ceramide to remove impurities while strengthening your skin’s protective barrier. Available at BootsCult Beauty, Dermstore, Look FantasticSephoraUlta and Walmart.
  • Corsx Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser ($11.00): A gentle pH-balanced (5.5) foaming cleanser that gets rid of excess oil and impurities without drying out skin. Available at Sokoglam and YesStyle.
  • La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser ($25.99): One of the gentlest cleansers I’ve ever tried, it’s ideal for sensitive and acne-prone skin. If even this irritates you, use a micellar water. Available at Boots, Cult Beauty, La Roche Posay, Sephora and Ulta.

Related: How To Choose The Right Cleanser For Your Skin Type


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Winter Skincare Tip #2: Switch To A Rich Moisturiser

“I would not recommend a complete overhaul of all products due to a change in seasons – I don’t think there’s a need for it,” says independent dermatologist Dr Du-Harpur. “I think that the most important thing is to develop an awareness and understanding of your own skin and how it responds to different environments and products, and make simple changes to help skin adapt for a change in environment.”

One of the changes to be aware of is how your skin responds to your moisturiser. Lightweight lotions are great for summer. Even the driest skin types often experience an increase in moisture that prompts them to opt for lighter formulation. But, come winter, they just stop working. There’s just not enough moisture in them to replenish the huge amount your skin loses when facing the dreaded winter cold.

Now, if you have oilier skin or skin that doesn’t change throughout the seasons and you’ve found a moisturiser that works for you all year round, great. Stick to that. But, if your skin needs a richer moisturiser in the winter months, here’s what it should contain:

  • Humectants: Glycerin, urea and hyaluronic acid all attract moisture into the skin.
  • Occlusive emollients: Oils, shea butter and silicones all form a waterproof barrier that locks moisture in.
  • Skin-soothers: Allantoin, aloe vera and oats calm down redness and irritation.
  • Antioxidants: Vitamins A and C, green tea and co fight the free radicals that lead to wrinkles.

Dr Du-Harpur recommends you use them mostly at night: “My number one tip is to embrace using a more occlusive, rich product, especially for the evening routine, which can help maintain the skin barrier and prevent the need for prescribed treatments.”

BEST PICKS

  • Bioderma Sensibio AR ($24.90):  This no-frills, fragrance-free gentle moisturiser uses mineral oil to create a protective barrier on the skin that deeply nourishes skin and prevents irritations. Plus, soothing agents to calm down redness. Available at Dermstore.
  • CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($20.99): My fave moisturiser for all skin types, this oil-free lotion is enriched with niacinamide and ceramides to strengthen the skin’s barrier and deeply moisturise skin. Available at BootsCult BeautyLook Fantastic, and Ulta
  • Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer ($37.00): This moisturiser is loaded with natural oils and fatty acids that strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and make even the driest skin types soft and smooth again. It’s only suitable for dry and sensitive skin. Available at Cult Beauty, Paula’s Choice, and Sephora.

Related: Dry Skin? Here’s What Your Moisturizer Should Contain (Plus, My Fave Picks)

mad hippie facial spf 30+ review

Winter Skincare Tip #3: Don’t Skip Sunscreen

Just because you can’t see the sun, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. “While there is less UVB around in winter, levels of UVA (or UV-Ageing as it is known in the dermatology world) are still significant enough to age our skin. I advocate using a sunscreen that specifically has a high UVA rating,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall.

Just so we’re clear, UVB rays are responsible for sunburns. In winter, there’s a smaller chance of that, so your brain thinks the sun’s not a danger. But it is. UVA are responsible mainly for premature aging and they’re very good at penetrating through clouds. UV rays can reflect on snow too. They then hit your skin, causing all kinds of damage: dryness, wrinkles, dark spots and even cancer. Pile on that sunscreen!

BEST PICKS:

  • EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 ($33.00): A lightweight half-mineral, half-chemical sunscreen for oily skin. It protects from UV rays, provides a light layer of hydration, and brightens dark spots. Available at Blue MercuryDermstoreLook Fantastic, and Skin Store.
  • MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme Broad Spectrum SPF 50 UVA-UVB Sunscreen ($30.00): A mineral sunscreen for dry skin with a silky smooth texture that provides broad spectrum protection and hydrates skin at the same time. Available at DermstoreRevolve, and Skin Store.
  • Ultrasun Ultra Sensitive Very High SPF50+ Extreme Formula (£54.00): This sunscreen uses the latest generation of chemical UV filters to provide broad spectrum, water-resistant protection without irritating sensitive skin, like the old generation did. Available at BootsSephora, and SpaceNK.

sunday riley good genes glycolic acid treatment

Winter Skincare Tip #4: Exfoliate

You need to exfoliate your skin in winter too. Even if it’s dry. All skin types need exfoliation. It helps replace old and damaged cells with newer and brighter ones, giving your skin a smoother and brighter appearance. And, without those dead cells uselessly accumulating on your skin, your skincare products can get deeper into it, so they can work even better. The best exfoliant for dry winter skin? It really depends on your skin type:

  • Dry skin: Choose an exfoliant with glycolic acid. The smallest member of the AHAs family, it penetrates skin deeper and works faster. In addition to exfoliating skin, it also hydrates skin and treats sun damage.
  • Sensitive skin: Lactic acid is made for you. The gentlest chemical exfoliant, it’s great for super sensitive skin. It exfoliates and hydrates skin at the same time and doesn’t generally cause irritations (unless you use too much, too often).
  • Oily and acne-prone skin: Use Salicylic Acid (BHA). It unclogs the pores from within, removing blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. Plus, it exfoliates the surface of your skin too, so dead cells can’t get in your pores and clog them up again.

BEST PICKS:

  • Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00): Don’t let the name fool you. This exfoliant has both salicylic acid to unclog pores and glycolic acid to fade away the dark spots pimples sometimes leave behind. Available at Cult BeautySephora and SpaceNK.
  • Paula’s Choice Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($39.00): This super-concentrated exfoliating cocktail contains Glycolic, Lactic, Malic, and Salicylic Acids to smoothen out imperfections, fade away dark spots, and treat acne. Available at Cult BeautyDermstorePaula’s ChoiceSelfridges, and SpaceNK.
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid ($29.00): The cult exfoliant from the brand, it unlclogs pores and treats blackheads and acne. The texture’s a little sticky, but if you can take that, this is one of the best salicylic acid exfoliants out there. Available at Cult BeautyDermstoreNet-A-PorterPaula’s ChoiceSephora, and SpaceNK.
  • The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution: A simple, no-frills Glycolic Acid exfoliant that brightens the complexion and fades away dark spots. Available at Beauty BayBootsCult BeautySephoraSpaceNKThe Ordinary, and Ulta.
  • The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% ($8.90): A simple Lactic Acid exfoliant enriched with Hyaluronic Acid to exfoliate and hydrate skin at the same time. Available at Beauty BayBootsCult BeautySephoraSpaceNKThe Ordinary, and Ulta.

Related: The Best Skincare Products With Glycolic Acid.

Winter Skincare Tip #5: Avoid Hot Baths

Is there anything better than soaking in a hot bath when it’s freezing cold outside? This is one of my guilty pleasures. Coming home after a long, freezing day in London, turn the hot tub on, and soak into the boiling hot water for hours on end… I dig this ritual. My skin does not. Hot water disrupts your skin’s protective barrier, leaving it all dry and even flaky.

Instead, opt for lukewarm showers whenever you can. You can still enjoy a hot bath once a week. Just limit the amount of time you soak in it, so it becomes a special treat you look forward to. And don’t forget to pile on the moisturiser afterwards!

BEST PICKS:

  • CeraVe Moisturizing Cream With Pump ($22.99): A fragrance-free, frills-free body cream with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to deeply moisturise dry winter skin. Available at Boots and Ulta.
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($48.00): A moisturising cream with colloidal oatmeal and other skin soothers to relieve dry and itchy winter skin. Available at Look Fantastic, Sephora, and Ulta.
  • The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter ($36.00): Loaded with shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil to strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and turn dry skin into supple and soft skin again. It’s rich without leaving a greasy residue behind. Plus, it smells divine! Available at The Body Shop and Ulta.

Winter Skincare Tip #6: Turn The Humidifier On

It’s not just the freezing cold temperatures outside that suck all the moisture out of your skin. Indoor heating systems that blast out hot air to keep you warm inside lower the moisture levels in the air. That inevitably leads to dry skin, too. Your skin really can’t catch a break in winter, can it? So, let’s pump that moisture back in with a humidifier. It’ll help keep your skin soft and supple all winter long.

BEST PICKS:

  • Dyson Purifier Humidify + Cool PH03 (£650.00): I know this is expensive, but it’s well worth the money. It has ultraviolet light technology that helps kill pathogens (think germs and bacteria) in the air as well as saving your skin from dryness. Available at Argos.
  • LtYioe Colorful Cool Mini Humidifier (£12.98): This little gem fits on your desk or nightstand. You could even use it in your car. It’s USB compatible, so you can literally plug it anywhere. Your skin will dig that. Available at Amazon.
  • Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier (£58.00): Is there a reason to choose warm mist over cold mist humidifiers? Not really. The only pro is that it feels warmer, which in winter matters. It helps treat dry skin and even relieve coughs and congestion. Available at Amazon and Argos.

Related: How To Care For Dry Skin

Winter Skincare Tip #7: Don’t Forget The Rest Of Your Body

It’s so hard to take good care of something you can’t see, is it? In winter, your body is covered under layers of clothing. Easy to forget you still need to exfoliate them, moisturize them… you know, the works. So, this winter let’s all try to fix that. In winter, “a common site for dryness is the lower legs,” says Dr Du-Harpur. “So-called ‘chicken skin’ or keratosis pilaris (KP) may also become more noticeable around this time of year due to dryness and associated inflammation.”

To fix that, use a body lotion with lactic acid that moisturises and exfoliates skin at the same time. Even if you don’t have keratosis pilaris, moisturise skin well and exfoliate your body once a week. Don’t forget a good lip balm and a hand cream. I want you to be well taken care of moisturised from head to foot.

BEST PICKS:

  • CeraVe Soothing & Repairing Hand Cream ($11.99): This hand cream contains hyaluronic Acid to attract moisture to your skin and ceramides to lock it in. Fragrance-free and not-greasy, you can easily apply it all day long as needed. Available at BootsSephora, and Ulta.
  • First Aid Beauty KP Smoothing Body Lotion with 10% AHA ($28.00): An exfoliating lotion with 10% lactic acid to treat keratosis pilaris and smooth out any bumps on the skin. Available at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, Sephora, and Ulta.
  • La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Soothing Hand Cream (£8.50): This moisturising hand cream is loaded with hydrating ingredients, like niacinamide and shea butter, that make skin softer and smoother. Plus, it sinks in quickly into your skin without feeling oily or greasy. Available at BootsLa Roche Posay, and Sephora
  • Paula’s Choice Paula’s Choice RESIST Skin Revealing Body Lotion 10 AHA ($29.00): A moisturising lotion with exfoliating Glycolic Acid to get rid of dead cells, fade away dark spots, and make skin softer and smoother. Available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice.

Related: 5 Ways To Treat Chapped Lips

The Bottom Line

There you go. The best winter skincare tips to banish dryness and flakiness and keep your skin soft and supple from head to toe. They’re all dermatologist-approved, so you know your skin is in the right hands. Time to enjoy the winter season in style. Bye bye, dryness!

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